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Miami, Florida, U.S.
R. Alexander Acosta is dean of the Florida International University College of Law. On February 16, 2017, he was announced as the replacement nominee for the United States Secretary of Labor.
- 1 Background
- 2 Executive Branch service
- 3 U.S. Attorney for Southern District of Florida
- 4 Dean of the Florida International University College of Law
- 5 Awards and recognition
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Following law school, Acosta served as a law clerk to Samuel Alito, then a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, from 1994 to 1995. Acosta then worked at the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, where he specialized in employment and labor issues. While in Washington, Acosta taught classes on employment law, disability-based discrimination law, and civil rights law at the George Mason University School of Law.
On December 31, 2013 Acosta became the new chairman of U.S. Century Bank, the largest domestically owned Hispanic community bank in Florida and one of the 15 largest Hispanic community banks in the nation. He spearheaded the effort to establish the J.M. degree in banking compliance, BSA and anti-money-laundering at FIU Law. Acosta also serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Gulliver Schools,
Executive Branch service
He has served in three presidentially appointed, senate-confirmed positions. He was a member of the National Labor Relations Board, appointed by G. W. Bush, from 2002–2003, where he participated in or authored more than 125 opinions. Following the NLRB, he was Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice on August 22, 2003; becoming the first Hispanic to hold the rank of Assistant Attorney General. He also served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division. More recently, Acosta served as the U.S. Attorney for Southern District of Florida, and was the longest serving U.S. Attorney in the District since the 1970s.
U.S. Attorney for Southern District of Florida
While Acosta served as U.S. Attorney, the Southern District prosecuted a number of high-profile defendants, including Jack Abramoff for fraud, José Padilla for terrorism, and Charles “Chuckie” Taylor Jr. for torture, (the first torture case of its kind in the U.S.).
The District also targeted white collar crime, prosecuting several bank-related cases, including one against Swiss bank UBS. The case resulted in UBS paying $780 million in fines, and for the first time in history, the bank provided the United States with the names of individuals who were using secret Swiss bank accounts to avoid U.S. taxes.
Other notable cases during his tenure include the corruption prosecution of Palm Beach County Commission Chairman Tony Masilotti, Palm Beach County Commissioner Warren Newell, and Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne; the conviction of Cali Cartel founders Miguel and Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, for the importation of 200,000 kilos of cocaine, which resulted in a $2.1 billion forfeiture; and the white-collar crime prosecutions of executives connected to Hamilton Bank.
Acosta also emphasized health-care fraud prosecutions. Under Acosta’s leadership, the District also focused on health care fraud and because the top district in the nation in health care fraud prosecution, charged more than 700 individuals responsible for more than $2 billion in fraud.
Dean of the Florida International University College of Law
On July 1, 2009, Acosta became the second dean of Florida International University College of Law. During Acosta’s tenure FIU Law has risen to #100 in the U.S. News and World Report Rankings, improved its student to faculty ratio from 16.2 to 1, to 12.8 to 1, and reduced its class size by 40%.
Awards and recognition
Acosta has twice been named one of the nation’s 50 most influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business Magazine. He was named to the list of 100 most influential individuals in business ethics in 2008. He serves on the Florida Innocence Commission, on the Florida Supreme Court’s Commission on Professionalism, and on the Commission for Hispanic Rights and Responsibilities.
In 2013, the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce presented Dean Acosta with the Chairman’s Higher Education Award in recognition of his “outstanding achievements, leadership and determination throughout a lifetime of caring and giving back to the community.”